Why You Should Consider Volunteering in Retirement

Why You Should Consider Volunteering in Retirement

March 12, 2024

Retirement is widely considered a time for relaxation, exploration, and new-found freedom. For many, it's a phase marked by long-awaited activities like travel, golfing, or spending quality time with grandchildren. Even though their are many options to keep busy, there is one avenue that seems underutilized: volunteering.

According to Ken Dychtwald, chief executive of AgeWave, only 26% of retirees in the United States engage in volunteering activities. This statistic raises eyebrows, especially considering the wealth of experience and knowledge that retirees possess. In contrast, the average retiree spends a staggering 47 hours per week in front of the television. But why is volunteering so crucial, especially in retirement? 

Research underscores the numerous health benefits associated with volunteering. Ernest Gonzales, of New York University's Center for Healthy Aging Innovation, highlights its positive effects on cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being. Volunteering has been linked to decreased anxiety, depression, and loneliness, with volunteers reporting improved overall health and happiness. Julia Nakamura, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, suggests that regular engagement with social circles or religious groups help influence retirees to volunteer. 

So, how can we encourage more retirees to embrace volunteering?

The answer lies in proactive measures from nonprofits, employers, and individuals themselves.

  • Nonprofits play a crucial role in promoting volunteering opportunities. Pagliarini suggests that nonprofits prioritize showcasing volunteer opportunities alongside donation options on their websites. Clear communication and flexibility in scheduling can also attract retirees who may feel constrained by fixed commitments.
  • Employers can help encourage volunteering by hosting volunteering experiences and supporting continued service post-retirement. Programs like AmeriCorps Seniors exemplify this approach, enabling older workers to transition seamlessly into volunteering roles.
  • For retirees seeking volunteer opportunities, reach out to friends, family, or professional connections (we'd be delighted to help at Harvest Point® Wealth Management) to see if they have any recommendations.

Ultimately, the call to action is clear: retirees possess a wealth of untapped potential that can benefit communities and individuals alike. By embracing volunteering as a cornerstone of retirement, we can redefine this stage of life as not just a period of leisure, but as a chapter of purpose, growth, and contribution. As Dychtwald summarizes, "People are yearning to be helpful. But they haven't heard the call yet in a grand-scale way." It's time to amplify that call and unlock the power of retiree volunteerism.

Read the full article HERE.